When Mocavo brings content online, it becomes free forever. Let me be clear – I didn’t just say free for now, I said free forever. …
How can I trust that content on Mocavo will be free forever?
We are committed to free genealogy unlike any other company – it’s part of our history. When I founded GenForum in 1997, I said the site would be free forever. To this day, it’s still free. Everything else I’ve done in the industry is now free (GenCircles, Family Tree Legends, BackupMyTree).1
Less than a year later, Cliff announced the Findmypast acquisition of Mocavo, reiterating the “free forever” promise:
Today is an exciting day for genealogists everywhere as we’re announcing that Mocavo has been acquired by Findmypast/DC Thomson Family History. This is a groundbreaking development for the industry and a major turning point in Mocavo’s quest to bring all the world’s historical information online for free. The wonderful folks at DC Thomson Family History share our vision of the future of family history, and we couldn’t be more excited to join them. …
In October of last year, we decided to do something audacious and bold – something never before tried in the industry. We launched our Free Forever revolution and this became the day when Mocavo’s soul was born. Everything turned around once we put a stake in the ground and stood for free genealogy (and now Mocavo is growing rapidly, putting more than 1,000 free databases online every single day and more users discovering us than ever). We have our loyal and supportive users to thank more than anyone!
One of the immediate benefits of the acquisition is that we’re putting the complete US Census index online for free (forever!), making us the first commercial provider in history to ever do this. Search the United States Federal Census Now.
The next few months are going to be incredibly exciting as we bring together two companies with enormous resources, content, and technology to bring you more of what you love. Nothing on either site will be going away – just getting better (and quickly!).2
He also wrote,
[Findmypast and Mocavo] both remain committed to delivering on Mocavo’s promise to provide free access to family history records on an individual database level forever. Toward that commitment, Findmypast is announcing today that the full indexes to the US Census from 1790 to 1940 are available for free at Mocavo.com.3
For some time the two websites continued to operate separately and Mocavo continued to be free. Earlier this year the Mocavo blog announced,
We wanted you to be the first to know that in the coming months Mocavo will be coming together with its sister site, Findmypast. This will create a single experience for our US customers in a move that aims to deliver a more focused, efficient and comprehensive service to US family historians.…We are now in the process of moving all Mocavo site content to Findmypast so you’ll soon be able to enjoy everything currently available on Mocavo and more. As part of our ‘Free Forever’ promise, Mocavo subscribers will continue to enjoy free access to all of the same records that were previously published for free on Mocavo.4
It appeared the forever-free promise would apply just to those who had subscribed.
On 29 March 2016 Mocavo sent me an email announcing that the move had taken place. Visitors to the Mocavo.com website are now automatically forwarded to http://www.findmypast.com/mocavo-info. I tried to see if the US census is available there for free for everyone, as it was on Mocavo. I was not able to tell for certain one way or the other, but it appears it is no longer available for free to just anyone. I’ve asked Findmypast for clarification. Unfortunately, the business hours of the Ancestry Insider run from 7:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday. So even though you will be reading this on Wednesday, I don’t expect to receive a reply until it’s too late. Next week I’ll let you know what I learn.
I share this article as a reminder to everyone. Whether free or not, always store a local copy of any online source you cite. You never know when your access to that source will go away. And never consider a naked URL to be a citation. In fact, a citation to an online source is never complete until you include enough information to find the source of the source.
1. Cliff Shaw, “Mocavo Introduces Free Forever – Join us in the revolution!” Mocavo Genealogy Blog (http://blog.mocavo.com/2013/10/mocavo-introduces-free-forever-join-us-revolution : 10 October 2013); archived at WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/web : accessed 2 April 2016). Emphasis in the original.
2. Cliff Shaw, “A New Chapter for Mocavo,” Mocavo Genealogy Blog (http://blog.mocavo.com/2014/06/new-chapter : 23 June 2014); archived at WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/web : accessed 2 April 2016).
3. Cliff Shaw, “Mocavo Acquired By Findmypast: A New Chapter Begins,” Mocavo Genealogy Blog (http://team.mocavo.com/2014/06/mocavo-acquired-by-findmypast-a-new-chapter-begins : 23 June 2014); archived at WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/web : accessed 2 April 2016).
4. “Mocavo and Findmypast are coming together,” Mocavo Genealogy Blog (http://blog.mocavo.com/2016/01/mocavo-and-findmypast-are-coming-together : 18 Jan 2016); archived at WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/web : accessed 2 April 2016).